How to Reduce Emissions?
Labor’s carbon price.
Under the first three years of a carbon tax 370 companies are charged a fixed price for every tonne of CO2 they emit. The revenue raised is used to compensate industry and households for price rises and fund clean energy programs. In 2015 the carbon tax will be changed to an Emission Trading Scheme with the price set by the market. Emissions are capped and reduced over time. The scheme will be linked to the European carbon market, which means the price of emissions is likely to drop significantly. Industry will be able to purchase up to 50% of their carbon permits offshore.
Coalition’s Direct Action.
Direct Action will punish companies that emit more than their historical baseline pollution. There is no penalty for business-as-usual pollution. $2.55 billion over the first four years will be used to pay industry and farmers to make emissions cuts such as storing carbon in soil and increasing energy efficiency. A further $670 million has been committed over four years to encourage the installation of 1 million more rooftop solar panels and plant trees using the ‘Green Army’.
There are pros and cons to Labour and the Coalition’s plans to reduce emissions. There is a risk that Labor’s plan to link an Australian ETS to a European scheme will see the price of carbon crash, which will reduce the incentive for industry to reduce emissions. Whilst purchasing cheaper carbon offsets overseas reduces the cost impact to Australian industry, I would prefer to see that investment made in Australia.
Direct Action is cheaper, with costs capped at $2.55 billion over the first 4 years, but you get what you pay for. The Coalition’s climate change plan is $4 billion short of the funding required to meet its promised 5% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, and is on track for a 9% increase by that date, according to analysis commissioned by The Climate Institute. The biggest feature of Direct Action is carbon sequestration in soil by changing farming practises. The CSIRO is unsure how CO2 in soil will be measured, and there is uncertainty about how long carbon stored in soil will stay there for.
All major political parties in Australia accept the science of climate change and agree that something needs to be done to limit CO2 emissions. There is bipartisan support for a 5% reduction in emissions by 2020, and a 20% renewable energy target by 2020. What industry desperately needs is market certainty so strong investment decisions can be made. An Emission Trading Scheme is the most cost effective way to reduce emissions steadily over time, and forces the market, rather than government to pick the winning investment decisions.
Climate of the Nation
Here are the most recent results of the Climate Institute’s research into Australian attitudes to climate change and related policies.
They find that two-thirds of Australians think that climate change is occurring and almost all of them believe that it is impacting Australia now. People are genuinely worried about the cost impacts of extreme weather and climate change on everyday concerns such as crop production and food supply, insurance premiums, water shortages and climate refugees.
Only around a third of Australians think that the carbon laws should be repealed. Opposition to carbon pricing is dropping. While support remains soft, it strengthens significantly when the policy is explained. This matches the findings of other recent polls.
There is evidence that Australians do not believe that carbon pricing has been as financially detrimental as they anticipated.
Today, more people want to give carbon pricing a go than get rid of it. Indeed, more Australians want greater action and leadership than in recent years.
This year the number of those agreeing that Australia should be a world leader in finding solutions to climate change is significantly higher. Despite the toxic politics, 60 per cent still think the Federal Government should be playing a leading role.
Only 6-8 per cent of Australians believe that local, state or federal government should take no action.
Strong majorities recognise that doing nothing on climate change will increase the risks and that there are economic opportunities in acting in areas like renewable energy. There is overwhelming support for renewables. Support this year is even stronger for wind and solar as preferred energy sources. Support for both nuclear and coal has declined, while Australians remain divided over gas.
There remains confusion about carbon pricing, however, and most Australians still believe that there are too many conflicting claims amongst scientists for the public to be certain. This is despite the fact that 97 per cent of published climate research accepts the science¹. Almost as many think the seriousness of climate change is exaggerated as do not.
Notwithstanding these differences of opinion, the underlying call for climate action is relatively resilient. Matthew Nott
We have a new candidate joining us for the CEFE candidates forum at 6pm Saturday 3 August at the Bermagui Country Club.
Andrew Thaler will be running for the seat of Eden-Monaro as an independent, and will join Mike Kelly, Peter Hendy, Catherine Moore, Ray Buckley and Dean Lynch in a Q&A session hosted by Clean Energy For Eternity.
I will be most interested to learn from each of the candidates what their position is on the science of climate change. I will look forward to hearing whether candidates feel that Australia can contribute to a global solution. Most of all I would like to hear how candidates feel about the best way to attract renewable energy business and jobs to our part of the world.
Each candidate will be allowed a 5 minute presentation. Following that, the floor will be open to all members of the audience. Questions need to be succinct, and can address any topic but I am hoping that most questions will be related to sustainability and renewable energy business.
The meeting will be over by 8pm, but there should be ample opportunity for members of the audience to meet candidates after the formal part of the evening.